15 September 2017 | Editing

Revision checklist

top view of an office table. brown wooden office desk with cup of coffee, notepad and laptop computer. working office space. office objects on the table. office working atmosphere

‘I’m making a list, and checking it twice …’ No, I’m not pretending I’m Santa. I’ve drawn myself up a checklist to revise my children’s novel before I send it into a publisher next month.

I’ve finished going through it scene by scene, working through about 5,000 words a week with my writing friend. That’s taken up the last six months.

Now I want to go through it in sweeps, checking the whole novel for different aspects. My checklist looks a little like this –

  • Dialogue – Does the dialogue sound natural? Does it either reveal something about the character or move the plot along?
  • Secondary characters – Are my secondary characters personalities in their own right, not merely props for my protagonist?
  • Setting – Am I looking at the setting through my protagonist’s eyes? Does the setting add to the mood I’m trying to evoke? Setting includes the physical environment as well as things like weather and sounds.
  • Scene building – Does each scene have a hook to entice the reader, plus a high moment?
  • Tension – Is there enough tension in each chapter, enough to keep the reader turning the page?
  • Pacing – am I speeding through the story or rambling on?
  • Emotion – what’s the emotion I’m trying to convey in each chapter? And what’s the emotion beneath the emotion?
  • Show, don’t tell – There’s a big difference between the tell sentence – Liz was sad – and the show sentence – Liz blinked away her tears and turned away.

The above list is useful for students editing a narrative piece, too.

Of course, this isn’t the only list in my life. There’s the birthday list for Miss 10, now known as Miss 11, the list of things to do before the school holidays begin in a week, the list of paid editing work and the list of things the kids would like to do in the holidays.

What lists are you working on now?


Her sheer audacity


Terri Dixon

I am always making lists of books. Friends recommend books, emails from bookshops come regularly, reviews in the weekend papers and of course suggestions from this blog.

So many books, so little time.


September 15, 2017 at 11:07 am

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